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Floratone: Floratone

Jim Santella By

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Electronics and special effects color Floratone's eponymous debut liberally; however, the core focus of this modern quartet remains tied to jazz tradition. Along with producers Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend, guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain have formed Floratone in the image of progressive jazz of the 21st century. They've collaborated to blend elements of country & western, blues and ballads with the influence of metallic rock and raw funk. Feeling that this band represents the new thing in the jazz mainstream, Blue Note awaits the public's reaction. They've found a winner with this group's mixture of ample drive and soulful passion.

Centered on Frisell's guitar, Floratone dresses up what he's accomplished in the past and builds on that with lyrical themes in a starring role. Three guest artists embellish eloquently without overwhelming: bassist Viktor Krauss, cornetist Ron Miles and violinist/violist Eyvind Kang.

"Swamped" makes the biggest impression, as Frisell and Chamberlain bring back memories of early Blue Note post-bop sessions, swinging effortlessly while dishing out powerful thematic material. "Louisiana Lowboat" adds to the album's country backswing, while "The Future" rocks with dramatic anxiety. Originally recorded as a sparkling jam session between Frisell and Chamberlain, Martine and Townsend edited the work into 11 chapters; each piece has a subtle theme that proves memorable. Violin, cornet and bass appear on half the tracks, adding thematic messages to the mix; what's more, their presence helps to retain a natural texture in the program. By combining leading-edge passion with traditional country pride, Frisell has reached out to a broad-minded audience and a larger fan base. With Floratone, he's gone a few steps farther ahead.

Track Listing: Floratone; The Wanderer; Mississippi Rising; The Passenger; Swamped; Monsoon; Louisiana Lowboat; The Future; Take a Look; Frontiers; Threadbare.

Personnel: Bill Frisell: guitars; Matt Chamberlain: drums, percussion; Viktor Krauss: basses; Ron Miles: cornet (1-3, 7, 8); Eyvind Kang: violin & viola (1-3, 7, 8).

Title: Floratone | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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